Bella was amazed by how well she had slept for the second night in a row. Usually she felt extremely uncomfortable when she slept in a strange bed or all alone, but she seemed to be doing quite well. She was in a strange house, filled with strangers – most of them were vampires – but she felt liberated, somehow. It was nice to fall asleep without someone watching her or lay in bed with her and cooling her off which made it impossible for her to fall asleep for a long time.
She closed and locked the bathroom door when she went to clean herself up, even though she was all alone in the room. It felt odd, somewhat claustrophobic, but it felt good. And the bathtub looked amazing as well. Rebekah had told her the day before that there was nothing wrong by taking a long bath and soak, to think about things or just to doze for awhile.
Bella only went back into the room to get her notebook and a pen before going back into the bathroom as the tub filled up. Soon, she spent the next half hour soaking and writing on her paper, finding the experience relaxing. She was all by herself and she had fun without being judged or being told what to do.
When she was all dressed and in the process of cleaning up the bedroom, a polite knock was heard on the door and she half expected the door to open and the person just barging into the room. When it didn’t happen, she walked to the door and opened it, revealing Elijah. She had met him the night before during dinner and he seemed the calmest of the siblings. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you and your siblings pull straws early in the morning to see who’s going to take care of the teenager residing in the guest bedroom and you lost today.”
“Good morning to you too, Miss Swan,” Elijah greeted her with a smile. “I’m glad to see you in such good spirits this morning.”
“Good morning,” she smiled. “And I am, thank you.”
“I was thinking maybe you and I could go for a stroll through New Orleans today. It is far more than the French Quarter.”
“Sounds great,” she grinned appreciatively at him and turned around to get her bag. She nearly tripped over her feet while doing so but was glad she hadn’t fallen over. That would have been embarrassing.
Elijah took her for a tour through the Garden District after hopping onto a street car. She had been there two days previously when they met at the cemetary – something she still thought of as being creepy – and hoped he wouldn’t take her there again.
He told her of how he and his siblings arrived in New Orleans somewhere in the 1700’s out of Europe and basically saw the city turn into what it was right now. They helped build the city and Bella could have sworn she saw some pride on his face, which made her smile. She had already noticed that despite the Mikaelsons seemingly being thrown together with their various personalities and their probably bloody history, that at least they achieved something with their years on the Earth, unlike the Cullens, so a little bit of pride was well deserved.
After lunch, Elijah took her to the public library to dig through old records. He admitted it wasn’t one of his favourite ways to spend the time and he had kept records of his own, but he wasn’t keen to allow anyone to make copies out of it, mostly because it held his personal notes as well.
It could of been awkward to see pictures of him, Klaus and Rebekah in old newspapers as they hadn’t aged one bit but it wasn’t. She was surprised, however, that the family allowed old images as the one she had found to exist. What if someone would find out their secret?
She found one image dating somewhere in 1821 where the three were with what looked like a young Marcel and another person and she was intrigued as the siblings didn’t look all too pleased and the headline of the story was ‘Forty-six people found murdered by escaped negros.’ “What happened here?”
“It… was a nightmare I’d really wish to forget,” Elijah sighed as he looked at the article. “And partially my fault.”
“Niklaus had saved Marcel from slavery and a life filled with abuse the year before. He seemed to have lost interest in him in 1821 and from then on I took him under my wing, I educated him, I started to teach the boy everything I knew and I didn’t see Niklaus had grown jealous. He undaggered Kol, much against my wishes.” Elijah pointed at the strange man standing next to Klaus. “Our brother Kol is a handful now, but he was even more so when he was a vampire. He was wild and reckless, he could enjoy himself a little too much. He was also the one who could make Niklaus even more volatile than he already could be. The two of them started to paint the town red, quite literally. We are photographed here as we watch how those bodies were carried out of the building and how the families grieved. Rebekah and I thought it would be a lesson for both Niklaus and Kol that this wasn’t a proper way to go about things. In the past, their carelessness had caused us having to move when we’d only just settled in one place.”
“Wait, they killed those people?” Bella had a shocked and surprised tone in her voice, but Elijah wasn’t impressed. Kol and Niklaus had done a lot worse back in the day, but he wasn’t going to tell her that. She knew how vampires worked, didn’t she?
“We’re vampires, dear,” Elijah smiled at her. “We drink blood to live.”
“Yes, but Kol and Klaus murdered all those people?”
“Sadly, yes. Kol recently divulged there were bodies up in the attic as well, the count was more around sixty-” When he saw the incredulous look on her face, he stopped. “A lot has changed over the last few hundred years, Bella. I can’t say that we’re living on the straight and narrow, as we do not. We try to keep a low profile as much as possible, it took Niklaus hundreds of years to finally learn that lesson, and even then, his emotions sometimes get the better of him. But he has myself and Rebekah to keep an eye on him. We’re a family.”
“What about Kol?”
“What about him? He used to be irrational, reckless, careless and too wild to keep around, we had him in his coffin for most of the time and every time we let him out, we realised the mistake we’d made. He’s too much of a child.”
Bella’s jaw fell open. “He’s your brother.”
“Yes, but our hands were full with Niklaus.”
“Wow.” She sounded appalled and shocked at the same time as she closed the books and started to put them on the library cart to bring them back.
“Make no mistake, Miss Swan, we used to be a great part of society and every family has skeletons in their closets. Kol was not one to be reasoned with, no matter how many times we tried to temper him.”
“So you’d just neutralize him for a few years and hoped he learned his lesson?” she huffed as she gathered her things. “It’s rather a convenient thing, isn’t it? Get tired of one sibling and just give them a timeout lasting years.”
“It’s not that simple…”
“Yes, it is,” Bella was furious as she stormed out of the library, followed closely by Elijah. “You were telling me earlier how humans are precious and how you like them and you were saying that family is important. How does not giving your brother the love and attention he needs – craves – fit into that? Yes, Kol might be a bit… unpredictable but…”
“He’s not to be reasoned with. Whereas Niklaus, Rebekah and I value family over everything, Kol sees everything as a game and if he’s on the losing side, he’ll switch sides. He doesn’t take responsibility, he-”
“He is a kid,” Bella breezed as she continued to march back to the Abattoir. “Yes, he’s over a thousand years old but since you had him daggered for the most part, he never grew up. No wonder he has a violent past, he wanted your attention and all you did was dagger him because he was a pain in the ass,” she continued. “It must be agony for you now that he’s human and you can’t dagger him.”
Elijah watched in amusement as she walked the wrong way but didn’t say anything just yet. He appreciated it when a woman spoke her mind like she did. He found it refreshing, especially since she hadn’t been around them for that long. It showed she was more observant than he or his siblings had imagined. He could understand that from a human point of view that she was right, but he and his family hadn’t been human for so long and there was only so much of Kol either of his siblings could take. And she was right, now that he was human, it was harder to quiet him, which was the reason why he didn’t live with them. He or Niklaus could easily lose their temper and accidentally snap his neck out of habit. And despite not really agreeing with Kol from time to time, both Elijah and Niklaus did not want to kill their own brother.
He didn’t say anything for a long time mostly as she was still fuming and trying to calm herself down and he didn’t want to cause her to lose herself in the presence of others. She was an angry young woman and he understood why, but something needed to be done because Claire witches were powerful and to not have said power under control could be disastrous.
“How about we go left on the next street, Miss Swan?” He calmly suggested, which was followed by a huff and her turning left with her firmly stuffing her hands in her pockets.
When they had discussed Bella the previous night, Rebekah had divulged Bella either had to be a good actress or wasn’t a threat to them. She, and Kol, were agreeing with the latter, but both he and Niklaus had been wary, even though it was Niklaus’ doing that the girl was in their lives right now. He had thought it would be fun to antagonize the Cullens by taking their human pet for a couple of days but hadn’t thought of the fact Bella could have been a plant. Clearly, she wasn’t.
“Left again, please,” he prompted her.
Of course, taking Bella in had everything to do with her treatment by the Cold Ones. Elijah sinceriously hoped that in the next few days, the girl would have enough confidence to end things with Edward for once and for all. Maybe, if the girl would show Elijah and his siblings more trust, they could do something more to help her. It was certainly a matter to discuss.
He quickly shot Kol a text message to meet him and Bella halfway. The girl was determined to give him the silent treatment and although it didn’t matter to Elijah, he wanted her to get her mind off of it and Kol was the right person to do so. He had become more agreeable as a person lately and more in touch with the world around him, and the girl seemed to favor him.
When they approached LaFayette Square, Kol was waiting for them with two coffees in his hands, obviously one was for himself, the other for Bella. “Wow, Elijah, what did you do?” Kol scolded his brother as he handed the spare coffee to Bella, who gratefully took it and took a sip of it. “Did you kill a puppy in front of her to show her how masculine you are?” He then looked at Bella. “I’m sorry love, we’ve been trying to teach him that puppies are a no-go area.”
Bella simply stared at Elijah until he walked away. She then turned to Kol and gently touched his arm. “I’m sorry.”
“For what, darling?” He asked as he put his arm around her and started to walk with her. He had something in mind that would definitely cheer her up. “He should be the one who’s sorry, he’s obviously upset you.”
“I am sorry for the way your siblings have been treating you. It’s not fair.”
Kol’s smile seemed to falter a bit which he tried to hide by taking a sip of his coffee. “You’ve been talking about me, ey?” he joked. “I thought so, my ears were burning!”
Bella shrugged. “Elijah took me to the public library to scour through some old newspapers for my paper and we got talking. I just don’t understand why he was so blasé about how he and Klaus treated you. Immortal or not, it’s just wrong.”
“Glad you’re on my side with that, Love,” he smiled at her. “It feels good to know someone who thinks the same way.”
Bella nodded. “Now, how are we going to fix it?”
Kol started to laugh. “Love, we can’t. Don’t you think I’ve tried? It’s the Holy Trinity and no one else. They’re just stuck with me now because I’m no longer immortal. We can’t change my position in my family or how they treat me, but instead, we can change everything wrong in your life.”
Bella huffed. “I told you, we can’t.”
“And I told you, for every problem there is a solution. Think about that.” He gently squeezed her shoulder. “Enough of the serious stuff. Let’s have some fun.”
“Yeah, alright, I do need to ask you something though,” she stopped walking as she looked at him, hoping he wouldn’t be mad. “I… don’t get mad, okay?”
“I promise, what’s on your mind?”
“Could you please stop calling me love? It’s freaking me out.”
Kol blinked. He had expected something else, but a simple pet name that everyone used was the problem? How? Why? “Why?” he echoed his thoughts.
“Edward calls me that… it’s …” Bella shuddered. “Please, try not to call me that?”
“I’ll try,” he smiled at her and kissed the top of her head. “You should have said something sooner, I would have tried earlier.”
She shrugged. “I didn’t really dare to ask…”
“Oh, but Darling, don’t be afraid to speak your mind. The time where such was frowned upon is long gone!”
“You’re free as a bird. At least for these couple of days, until you decide what to do. Don’t be afraid of speaking your mind,” he continued. “It’s very sexy when a woman does that.” Kol then winked at her and started to walk into the direction he wanted to take her.
Kol took her to the zoo, and it was actually kind of fun especially since he liked to tease the animals by making rocks float when nobody was looking or have a big cat chase its own tail. If she had to be honest, she’d seen better zoos, ones that had kangaroos for example. Ever since she’d been a child, she loved the kangaroos. And zebras, Kol said it was because she was a girl and girls love horses.
Bella had a great time regardless, if just for the company, talking about absolutely nothing and making fun of the animals. He then took her to a restaurant on St. Peter Street in the Quarter where they had a delicious pizza and ice cream for dessert. Kol insisted on bringing back something called “Frosty Paws”, which was a dessert for dogs but perfectly edible for non-dogs too and he wanted to give it to his brother Klaus, who, upon receiving the gift, was visibly not amused but didn’t lash out since Bella was standing next to Kol. Kol made it worse by barking as he walked away from Klaus and she had to stifle a giggle, simply because it was hilarious and in good spirit.
Bella invited Kol into her room as she spread out all the copies which she had gathered at the public library and continued to make notes in her notebook while laying down on the floor. She was going to have to work it all out when she had access to a computer when she got home.
“Stop it,” she laughed when Kol threw a pillow against her. “I’m working here.”
“And I’m bored.”
“Why is that my problem?”
“You invited me into your room, remember?” Kol pointed out as he laid down next to her, facing the ceiling as he had been observing her from his chair, she was a work of art. “You’re supposed to entertain me.”
She put down her pencil and leaned her head onto her hand as she looked at him. “And how am I supposed to do that?”
“I don’t know. We could play a game?” He smirked at her. “How about two lies and one truth? We have to figure out what’s the lie and what’s the truth.”
“What does the winner get?”
“Deal. You first.”
Kol sucked in some air as he was thinking. “My siblings think I’m the most amazing brother ever,” he snorted as Bella had a smile on her face. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Europe and I’m not afraid of anything.”
“The second one,” Bella replied with a nod. “That was easy.”
“Your turn, Dollface.”
“I used to own a red pick up truck,” she said after a moment of silence. “I just love wearing skirts and dresses and I’m failing school.”
“Well,” Kol looked her over as he licked his lips. Bella was a regular human being, not too thin and she had a great arse which was accentuated by her jeans. “It’s a shame you love to wear girly clothes because those jeans look stunning on you.”
Bella hit him on the chest.
“Ouch!” he laughed. “No, you used to own a red pick up truck. What happened to it?”
“It wasn’t safe enough, apparently. Some bored vampires smashed it to pieces to demonstrate how unsafe it was. Pissed me off. Pissed Charlie off.”
“I would have broken their fingers just to make sure they’d never do it again,” Kol muttered. “It’s your stuff. They should have left it alone.”
“Says you who destroyed my phone.”
“And I apologized for that and got you a new one,” Kol pointed out. “I’ve learned my lesson. I’m not going to do it again,” he added honestly.
Bella could tell he was being sincere, it was just a feeling she had deep inside. She smiled at him. “I believe you.”
He rolled to his side to get a better look at her and was quiet for a moment. “You know, from the look on my brother’s face this afternoon, I suspect you gave him hell.”
“You should do the same with the Cold Ones,” he started and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “You don’t have to do it alone, you know. Them lot don’t want me around anyway, I could come with ya.”
She knew he was right, she was perfectly fine and able to stand up for herself but didn’t out of fear for the safety of others. “What about my dad? The pack?”
“The way I see it is that that pack of yours are more than capable of taking care of themselves. Didn’t the legend say they were created specifically to deal with the Cold Ones?”
“You can’t save everyone, Cuddles, sometimes it’s best to think of yourself.” Before Bella could say anything in return he bopped her on the nose. “You’re great, Bella, you’re a positively agreeable young woman and they’re only going to ruin you.”
“Nope, don’t want to hear it.” Kol shook his head. “You’re a fiery dragon, it’s time to act like one. Just don’t start breathing real fire and set this house alight because I don’t think Niklaus would be thrilled about it.”
Bella giggled and then nodded. “Alright, I’ll try.”
“There’s no trying love, you either do or you don’t.”
Bella bit her lip as she looked at him and thought for a moment. “Okay Yoda, but only if you’re really coming back with me because if I go back alone I won’t be able to.”
“Or you could just stay here.”
Bella snorted and shook her head. “As much as I’d like to, I’m not leaving Charlie there and I’m still in school. He’s still responsible for me.”
“Seems like you’re more responsible for him.”
“He’s my dad. He doesn’t know how to dad very well but he’s my dad. You’ll like him.”
“Hey now,” Kol playfully grinned. “I didn’t know we were that far in our relationship to meet the parents!”
Bella snorted. “Parent. Charlie. As long as you’re on your best behaviour, he won’t shoot you.”
“There are guns in the house?”
“Do you truly want me to come home with you, Poppet?” Kol asked her again. He knew he had offered it and she had something along those lines as well, but he wanted to be sure. He didn’t want to give up his life here in New Orleans, even if it was far from being perfect, but a change of scenery and some distance from Niklaus was quite alluring.
Bella blushed. “You said it yourself, you could come with me and…” she stammered. “I wouldn’t mind, I think it would be a great idea.”
“Good,” Kol approved with a smile and a nod. “I’m up for an adventure. First thing in the morning I’m going to enroll into your school.”
She blinked at that. “You’re what?”
“They’re at your school, right? Those Cullens? Oh, hey, we should ask Rebekah to come with. She loves high school and, believe it or not, she’s strong enough to fight those Cullens if need be. I’m not certain how my witchy powers work outside of New Orleans, you see. They might fizzle out like yours will.”
Bella was baffled as she listened to Kol and saw the excitement in his eyes. She sat up at the same time as he did and he was actually constructing a plan which held possibilities. She could finish her school at least because if she didn’t, Charlie would get angry, and then do whatever she wanted, free from the Cullens. It was only a month or so that she had left in school. She just wondered why he’d do something like that for her. Or why Rebekah would, seeing as Bella was just someone random.
She got jostled out of her thoughts when Kol called for Rebekah, who was in the room in an instant. “You don’t have to shout, brother,” she said annoyed.
“I wanted to give you a headache,” Kol smirked as he got to his feet and started to tell her his plan.
Rebekah listened with a smile growing on her face. “Will there be arse kicking?” She asked excitedly when Kol finished talking.
“You don’t get it.”
“Yes, I do, now, will there be arse kicking? Sparkly arses to be exact?”
“Probably. I’m sure at some point in one of them will need reminding of manners.”
“I’m in.” Rebekah grinned. “Oh, this is going to be fun. High school and arse kicking, two of my favourite things.”